The United States’ new framework for international travel was formalized on Monday (Oct. 25) after U.S. President Joe Biden signed an order that will impose a new vaccine requirement and, as well, lift a travel ban on visitors from 33 countries, including most of Europe, starting Nov. 8.
Under the new rules, which were announced in September, most non-U.S. citizens and non-immigrants arriving by air will have to show both proof of vaccination and proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken at least three days before departure.
This changes the requirements for Canadians, who, during the pandemic, have been allowed to fly to the U.S. pending they show a negative antigen test prior to boarding.
The new policy will replace the United States’ current policy that restricts travel by non-U.S. citizens who have visited the United Kingdom, European Union, China, India, Iran, Republic of Ireland, Brazil and South Africa within 14 days.
Vaccination will not be required for children under age 18 to travel to the U.S., but they will have to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight, White House officials said.
“With science and public health as our guide, the United States has developed a new international air travel system that both enhances the safety of Americans here at home and enhances the safety of international air travel,” the White House said in a statement on Monday.
Children travelling with vaccinated adults must be tested within the previous three days and those travelling with unvaccinated adults, or travelling alone, must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken one day before their flight.
U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents will not be required to be vaccinated, but different testing requirements apply, depending on one’s vaccine status.
Vaccinated travellers in this category must show proof of a negative test taken at least three days before their departure while those who are unvaccinated must show proof of a test taken one day before departure.
Travellers to the U.S. from dozens of countries with a shortage of vaccines will be exempt from having to be vaccinated against COVID-19, officials said.
Additionally, as previously reported, international visitors will soon be required to provide information on how they can be reached while in the U.S. for contact-tracing purposes.
White House officials said that it will be up to the airlines to verify each traveller’s documents.
This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that it will accept international travellers vaccinated with mixed doses of any FDA or WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines.
This includes six brands of vaccines: Oxford/AstraZeneca (including its Indian-made counterpart, Covishield), Johnson and Johnson, Moderna, Pfizer/BionTech, Sinopharm and Sinovac.
The land border
The details released by White House officials on Monday apply to air travel only.
Earlier this month, U.S. officials announced that the land border shared with Canada and Mexico will also reopen on Nov. 8.
The U.S. side of the land border shared with Canada has barred non-essential travel since March of 2020. Canada, meanwhile, reopened its side to Americans on Aug. 9, 2021.
U.S. officials said yesterday that additional information about the requirements for people entering the United States via land borders will follow.
There will be no testing requirement for Canadians entering the U.S. by land, which differs from Canada’s policy, which requires all travellers entering the country to show a negative molecular (PCR) COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours.